Culture Ministry expresses its opinion over Che Linh ‘case’
Cultural management needs people who have a good command of culture and especially are cultivated. We cannot manage culture roughly or ad libitum. That’s the fact that those who are assigned to manage culture must understand.
Let’s review recent cases that captured public attention to evaluate cultural management activities in Vietnam.
The first case is related to a collection of short stories by Nguyen Vinh Nguyen, entitled “O lung chung nhin xuong dam dong” ( Looking at the crowd below
). The HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently decided to pull the book of shelves for “obscene content.”
The book was published half of a year before HCM City decided to revoke it. HCM City is also the first and only location in the country that issued the decision to withdraw the book from circulation.
However, many writers and critics have protested the decision. A talk was held on November 8, with the presence of prestigious writers and critics. Most of them did not agree with HCM City’s decision.
Writer Trung Trung Dinh said: “Attendants read this book very carefully and none of them agreed with the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s judgment that the book spread ‘obscene lifestyle’.”
In an article on Saigon Tiep Thi, critic Pham Xuan Nguyen called the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s decision ‘abnormal act.’
The second case is related to the live show of overseas Vietnamese singer Che Linh in HCM City.
Despite some problems caused by the Vietnamese show organizer, Che Linh’s shows in Hanoi (October 21, November 12) and in Da Nang (October 29) were held quite smoothly. However, the senior singer’s only show in HCM City was suspended because “it is not suitable to the city’s current situation.”
This reason is said to be vague and general for a music show.
The two above cases show that administrative decisions were made impulsively and subjectively, in the way “I do as I like.” Because people could not understand the reasoning of the show “it is not suitable to the city’s current situation.” Which is unsuitable? Why is now, not in the past or in the future? And when will the show be suitable? Why the show is appropriate to other cities, not HCM City?
For the “Looking at the crowd below” book, cultural managers concluded that the book spreads ‘obscene lifestyle’ but they do not explain to the public and the author that the book is obscene at which points and what are the standards for ‘obscene lifestyle?’
After making such decisions, instead of explaining to the public to help them understand the case, state management agencies kept quiet. Many people, thus, ask what are behind these decisions? Why state bodies did not consult experts’ opinion before making decisions?
These cases show that there are arbitrary managers who abuse their power to make judgments, regardless of they are right or wrong, and did not care how others think or even disregard the laws.